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April 21, 2018

The 2018 London Marathon is Kipchoge’s Race

Editor’s note: Thank you to loyal reader Lena Weidenbruch for writing this year’s London Marathon Preview. She is a student at Fordham University and is currently studying abroad in foggy foggy London Town. 

If the conditions are right on Sunday, there is no reason that we shouldn’t see the world record
broken in the 2018 London Marathon.

Going undefeated since 2014, Eliud Kipchoge, who tops the elite men’s start list, is the man for the job. Because of Kipchoge, any man who wants a chance at the win must also take a chance at the record. There are four men in particular who undoubtedly have their sights set on victory that will likely go out in world record pace to challenge Kipchoge. Mo Farah, Daniel Wanjiru, Kenenisa Bekele, and Guye Adola will do their best to challenge the 2016 Olympic Marathon Champion. The stakes are different for each man on this list, and Kipchoge’s performance on Sunday will prove whether or not these stakes even matter in the first place.

Mo Farah will compete in the marathon for the first time since retiring from the track last
summer with ten global gold medals in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. In the race that is being
treated as his debut at 26.2, Farah will prove that he has what it takes to be competitive with the
best of the best on the road. After winning the Vitality Big Half-Marathon in March, 3 seconds
ahead of Daniel Wanjiru, Farah confidently told The Guardian “The good thing is here I’ve
learned I looked as good as Wanjiru. Some of my sessions and the work I’ve done in the past
four weeks have been unbelievable. I think I still have it.”

Daniel Warinju is the reigning London Marathon champion. The Kenyan broke the tape last year
with a time of 2:05.48. Wanjiru is looking to repeat last year’s success in London but faces a
bigger challenge this year because of Eliud Kipchoge’s addition to the lineup.

Kenenisa Bekele is quoted by LetsRun as saying “It will be an honor to race alongside Sir Mo
Farah and Eliud Kipchoge as well as the other great athletes in the field. I have been training
very hard with the aim of arriving in London in April in the best possible condition.” When
Bekele says he aims at arriving in the best possible condition, that means arriving in world
record-breaking condition. Bekele ran the second fastest marathon of all time in 2016 but has
failed to complete multiple races over 26.2 miles since then. This year’s race against Kipchoge
will be the ultimate indicator of whether Bekele still has what it takes. The last contestant that cannot be counted out is Guye Adola. In 2017 he had the fastest marathon debut of all time at the Berlin Marathon with a time of 2:03:46, finishing second behind Kipchoge. With only one marathon under his belt, Adola has got to prove that he has more than just beginner’s luck.

The stats of these headliners together are insane. Between just Farah, Kipchoge, and Bekele there are eight Olympic gold medals, 12 World Outdoor Championship gold medals, and four world records. Throw Warinju and Adola into the mix, and you’ve also got the reigning London champion, and the fastest marathon debut of all time. Three of these men have personal bests of under 2 hours and 4 minutes and two of them, Kipchoge and Bekele, have gone within 10 seconds of the standing world record. Kipchoge is the only man to have proved that he is capable of going under Dennis Kimetto’s 2014 world record of 2:02.57.

Almost exactly a year ago Kipchoge clocked 2:00.25 in Nike’s Breaking2 attempt, unofficially
breaking the world record by a whopping 2 minutes and 32 seconds. The timing has never been
better for Kipchoge to go under the record again. If the rest of the elite field is up for the literal chase, that should be enough to get Kipchoge across the line sub 2:02.57. After his entry for this year’s race was announced, Kipchoge told The Guardian, “remember I ran the third-fastest time in history last year (London 2016) and I just missed out on the record by a few seconds. London is truly the place to break the world record.”

Any man who wants to be competitive in this race must go out in world record pace, meaning
that it is possible we might see multiple men go under the record on Sunday. The men’s elite
field for London 2018 does just about the best job it can in lining up competition for the man
dubbed the greatest marathoner of the modern era. Rather than a race against the clock, or even
the world record, the 2018 London Marathon will be a race against Eliud Kipchoge. Can the man
be beat? We’ll have to wait and see.

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